Summary: How you start does not always count but how you finish is always important. So plan to finish strong.

Patasi Church of God

Kumasi, Ghana

Sunday January 13th 2008

Finishing 2008

2 Tim 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

I guess every time we come to the start of a New Year we approach it with some degree of hope as to what it would or could bring us. Things may have gone bad last year but this a New Year and we have new hope.

Emily Dickinson the American Poet wrote;

“Hope is like a nightingale that sings in the dark.

It does not have to wait for daylight to come before it begins to sing” .

Hope is a sense of expectation to triumph over difficult circumstances and negative conditions. Hope is the anticipation of success even in the midst of failure. Hope is having a positive attitude about the future. Hope is seeing a way out of despair. Hope looks forward; hope looks onward, and hopes looks upward, never backward never downward. Hope shines brightest in the deepest darkness.

Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is the fuel that takes us from today into tomorrow, hope is the silver lining on every cloud and hope is the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Hope is sunshine after the rain and hope is the dawn after darkness.

Hope is seeing a rainstorm in a raindrop. Hope is seeing a cornfield in a grain of corn. Hope is seeing a goldmine in a gold nugget. Hope is seeing a pearl in an oyster and a diamond in a rock. Hope is the anticipation of good, and at the start of a New Year we muster up some good old-fashioned hope and make resolutions while embarking upon the twelve month long journey hoping to arrive at our preplanned destination.

A British survey revealed that 14% of New Year’s Resolutions fail within the first day and 27% are ditched in the first week. Can you guess how many resolutions are kept? ABOUT 14%. When New Year’s resolutions go unfulfilled people fall back into the old routine that put them where they were in the first place.

There is a word for that you know, it is the biological term, HOMEOSTASIS. Say it with me “HOMEOSTASIS.” Now don’t try to be cool when you leave here telling people “don’t be HOMEOSTATIC” because they keep falling back into their same old ways. Say it with me again HOMEOSTASIS. It means the tendency to go back to a state of balance when destabilized. For our purposes it refers to falling back into the same old rut.

So what we want to avoid in 2008 is going back to what we were in 2007. We need to go forward. Paul says it like this in Philippians 3:13-14 “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I think we consider a couple of critical things when we decide to take a trip or embark on some new enterprise. First we determine where we want to go. Next, we figure out how we plan to get there. We face various challenges with doing new things. Many people just never get started. The old Chinese Proverb says:

“the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

On the other hand sometimes a good plan of how to start is made but we do not plan how to finish. So this year I want to encourage you to decide how you want to Finish 2008. A good visionary sees the end from the beginning. The best plan always has an exit strategy. So it is here that the Apostle Paul comes to our rescue describing his life’s journey by saying;

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7,8.

Paul the Apostle enters the Holy Bible as Saul of Tarsus a Jewish Pharisee whose religious zeal drove him to embark upon a crusade against the followers of Jesus Christ. We first see him authorizing the execution of Stephen, a godly man, an early deacon of the 1st century church. As the rocks registered their fatal thumps to Stephen’s head, face, chest, arms, back and legs he cried out “Lord do not hold them guilty for this.”

Saul, at whose feet the murderous mob dropped off their outer coats, so they could pummel their projectiles without inhibition, just stood there and relished the moment as Stephen fell to his knees then flat to the ground in the pangs of the horror of such a gruesome death. Saul planned to launch his persecution of believers to Damascus where he was intent upon arresting and imprisoning every Christian he could find.

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